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David Hinsen, Bedford Church of God’s senior pastor, believes it’s important for the church to “get outside our four walls.”
“If all we do is have a couple of services and go home, we’ve failed,” he said. “We need to be a part of the community.”
That’s the impetus behind the church’s decision to open a food pantry on May 1. According to the Rev. Hinsen, the idea came from J. R. Cook, the youth pastor.
Although there are existing ministries that run food pantries, Hinsen said they came to the conclusion that more is needed because the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, in Lynchburg, told them that people are coming all the way to Lynchburg to get food.
“If we can provide it here, it would help them to not have to drive to downtown Lynchburg and back,” he said.
The need isn’t just due to unemployment.
“Some people just assume, because you work, you don’t need anything,” Hinsen said. “That’s not always the case.”
They have made trips to Lynchburg to pick up items. The church has pantry storage space for non-perishable items and a freezer for frozen food. Hinsen said they are getting a second freezer to double their capacity.
“We will be providing fresh vegetables as well,” he said.
Hinsen said the food distribution — who gets how much — is income-based and people will need to fill out some minimal paperwork. They will need to state their income, but Hinsen said Food Bank rules prohibit them from asking for proof of income. They have to take people’s word.
The food distribution will be held in the church’s fellowship hall where items will be available on three long tables set up in a U-shape. People will choose items they need. Hinsen said they aren’t packing boxes with items; they don’t want to send items home with people that they can’t use.
Hinsen said they are asking people, who show up for food, to bring bags with them. However, he added that they will make sure that everybody is at least able to get their items to their car.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) items come from the Food Bank at no cost to the church. Hinsen said the church will place an order with the Food Bank and these will be ready, on a pallet, when they arrive.The church must purchase any non-USDA foods.
“We certainly welcome donations,” he said.
However, while they will accept donations in kind, cash donations work better. That’s because they can buy non-USDA items from the Food Bank at a fraction of what individuals would pay at a grocery store. Hinsen said they could potentially get six cans of some food item for the same price a person would pay for one can in a grocery store. They can also accept donations of perishable food, too, but, again, Hinsen said they can make cash go further.
Bedford Church of God is located on East Main Street, across from the CVS, at the intersection with Independence Boulevard. The food pantry will be open on Thursdays, starting on May 1, from 6 -8 p.m. and staffed with volunteers from the church. Hinsen said they may adjust the hours as time goes on.
For more information, contact the Rev. David Hinsen at (540) 586 8706 or (540) 586-2933.